Insights on Ladies’ Night: Women in Tech

By Naomi Wang and Nicole Lim

Recognising that women are under-represented in the tech industry and often face gender-related barriers in the workplace, Advisory and Kaspersky co-organised the Ladies’ Night: Women in Tech event on 24 August 2021. The event brought girls and women together to share their personal and professional experiences in the tech industry in a no-holds-barred format. Speakers on the panel included:

  • Genie Sugene Gan (Moderator) — Head of Government Relations & Public Affairs, APAC
  • Anastasia Shamgunova — HR Director, APAC, Middle East, and Africa
  • Margrith Appleby — General Manager, Australia and New Zealand
  • Noushin Shabab — Senior Security Researcher, Global Research & Analysis Team
  • Sandra Lee — Head of Sales and Channels, APAC
  • Shan Loy — Academic Partnerships Manager, APAC

During the session, these talented women from Kaspersky shared more about some of the struggles they faced at work and how they eventually overcame them.

An important skill is communication, which entails active listening, rather than just speaking up.

While technical and hard skills are important in any industry, it is often the soft skills that set people apart. Moreover, communication is also essential in many jobs. For example, as a partnerships manager, it is about finding win-win situations with the company and its partner.

Contrary to popular belief, a programming background is not needed for one to enter the industry as there are a lot of roles available that do not relate to programming. In fact, most members of the panel did not come from a technical background or received traditional technical training before starting their career in the technology industry.

It is a common misperception that being able to tech-speak is the rule of the game. For instance, during the job interviews, candidates may think that it is important to know the technical jargon and demonstrate a very detailed understanding of how the technology offered by the company works.

However, this is not true. Instead, the industry values people who are able to know how to translate technical understandings into relatable communication with customers. In fact, once you start working, you may rarely encounter people who are asking you about the specifics of how the technology works, especially if you are interfacing with external stakeholders.

There are many sub-sectors in the technology industry. It ranges from Information Technology (IT) and cybersecurity to software and hardware development, and even electrical engineering. It is important to have a broad knowledge of the various areas of technology as we often have to know how to incorporate and implement different technologies in the workplace.

However, having a specialised skill is also equally as important for one to become more established in the field and take his or her career to the next level. Hence, there is a need to keep a balance between the two — learning new technologies while seeking to collaborate with others to get better at your specialty.

Generally, being the minority gender can be an advantage as it allows one to be more easily noticed and recognised. Standing out is often internalised to be a problem by many women when it can in fact be a good thing. It is important for women to recognise if the issue they are facing as a minority at work is a self-perceived issue or an external issue that needs to be communicated and dealt with. Follow-up actions can then be taken to address the issues.

No. During the early years of the technology industry, partly because there were very few women in the industry, some doors actually opened faster and more easily. However, once through that door, it is still important for one to be able to prove his or her abilities at the workplace in order to further advance in the career.

An advice to take note of is to be authentic, to act with integrity and to always be true to yourself. In fact, more often than not, women might be harder on themselves in the workplace as compared to their male counterparts who are more willing to fight for career progression without the same self-doubts about their abilities.

Additionally, both male and female workers who have undergone comparable training in technology should be on equal footing when starting out in the industry. Hence, it is important for women to possess the courage to believe in themselves and know that they are also well equipped with the skill sets and competitive edge required to thrive in the industry.